Friday, October 30, 2009
Dawn of the Dreadfuls will be an original work of fiction based on Austen characters (as opposed to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, which were both re-imaginings of Austen novels). The story will follow young Elizabeth Bennet and her sisters as they grow up and are trained by their father to become zombie slayers. Hopefully, this work will live up to its excellent predecessor.
Another note on last night's episode: What was up with Althea's winning look? I liked the pants and the sweater, but couldn't really look away from the horrible, unflattering, unsupportive tank top. Model Tanisha's rack deserves better than that.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
JagerCon: Sci-Fi Tuesdays
@ Clubhouse Jager
923 Washington Avenue N.
10 p.m. / 21+ / Free
NOTE: JAGERCON WILL NOT HAPPEN ON NOVEMBER 3RD DUE TO A PRIVATE EVENT AT CLUBHOUSE JAGER.
Join hosts Kate Iverson (l'étoile magazine, Secrets of the City) and Beth Hammarlund (l'étoile magazine, A Tiny Machine) every Tuesday Night for JagerCon! JagerCon is a weekly sci-fi party featuring screenings of classic nerdy movies and television shows -- topped off with 2-4-1 cocktails all night served by Star Captain Paul!
Mingle with like-minded sci-fi geeks, discuss D&D strategies, and use that Captain Picard impression you've been perfecting to pick up chicks at the bar. Snort-laugh the night away while bragging about your MMORPG addiction and enjoy a cozy, nerd-friendly environment.
NEW SCHEDULE ANNOUNCED!
Oct 27th: Jason X: Jason in Outerspace
Nov 3rd: CANCELLED DUE TO PRIVATE EVENT (Don't worry! We WILL reschedule Cocoon!)
Nov 10th: Westworld
Nov 17th: Class of Nuke Em' High
Nov 24th: Legend
Monday, October 26, 2009
Friday, October 23, 2009
Three collections were shown for this season of Project Runway, unlike in previous seasons, in which four or five collections were shown to throw fans off the scent. Despite a few floor-length gowns, the majority of the looks have a very daily wear feel. Sadly (at least I think so), no one will be having a "Chris March used human hair!" moment this season.
The three models used in the finale show are Tanisha, who has modeled for Althea at least five times, Lisa, who has consistently walked the runway for Carol Hannah (and also took a turn for Althea), and Kojii (although it's a little hard to tell with the hat), who has earned some serious loyalty from Logan. That information combined with what we know of the designer's styles makes an Althea-Carol Hannah-Logan showdown a very likely event.
Lisa's been Carol Hannah's favorite for quite a while, and has modeled successful looks such as the black multi-textured gown created for Christina Aguilera. This collection is the most disjointed of the three, but there are a few pieces that immediately struck me as very Carol Hannah. I definitely don't have a problem with her making it all the way through, as she's been consistently solid this season, with a couple of extremely high notes. Initially, a few of these pieces reminded me of Christopher's work, but I imagine that if he created a runway collection there would be far more dramatic ball gowns.
Tanisha has been with Althea from the beginning, even taking home the top prize for the challenge in which designers created a look with their model as the customer. The collection's color palette and over-sized chunky sweaters scream Althea. And as my friend Jahna (who was my partner in crime for these predictions) pointed out, no one loves a wide headband the way Althea loves a wide headband.
Who knows what will happen? I feel very confident in my predictions, but it wouldn't be the first time I've been wildly wrong about something. One thing I do have a little bit of insider information about is the Project Runway tattoo rumors. Christopher and Ra'mon have definitely gotten matching star cluster tattoos, and since the design includes three stars and Ra'mon has mentioned that three designers got the tattoos, Jezebel recently speculated that Nicolas was the third. Since this information was accompanied by an episode still of Nicolas with the design visible on his hand, I was certain that they were correct, and actually used the information in one of my l'étoile Fashion Trivia questions last night. Christopher, a loyal attendant, actually gasped "Who's the third?" from the crowd when I read the question aloud. Oops. Gave everyone a free point on that one. Later that evening, he informed me that he thinks just he and Ra'mon got the tattoos, but he was the first to admit he may be mistaken about that. He did confirm that another designer was supposed to get the tattoo as well, but wasn't feeling well and cancelled. Hint: She loves mascara. Apparently, quite a few of the participants drew the three stars on one another for good luck during the series, including Christopher, Ra'mon, and Nicolas. I hope they didn't include Irina.
And now for some shameless self-promotion. Join Kate Iverson and me every Thursday at Hell's Kitchen for Fashion Trivia and a screening of Project Runway. We give away fabulous prizes, drink a lot of Bellinis, and get extremely emotionally invested in the episodes.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Set in a small town in Ontario, the majority of the film takes place in a church basement where a daily morning radio show is broadcast. Host Grant Mazzy, producer Sydney Briar, and assistant Laurel Anne begin receiving confusing phone calls in which townspeople are babbling incoherently. Their traffic reporter in the "Sunshine Chopper" (actually his Dodge Dart perched on top of a hill), calls in to report rioting outside of a local clinic. The riot devolves into people trampling one another, and eventually turns horrifically violent. The townspeople start to rip one another apart, while chanting terms of endearment and speaking in baby voices. Throughout the chaos, our three main characters remain in the radio station, listening to eyewitness reports of the violence, but having no real confirmation of what's happening in the outside world.
Though Pontypool is considered a zombie movie, that label certainly doesn't do justice to the psychological horror that the film accomplishes. There isn't much gore, there aren't any startles, and the zombies don't get much screen time. Most of the tension arises from hearing horrific incidents described, with no visual confirmation. The main characters are frantically trying to make sense of an unexplainable situation, and their realization that the virus is spread through the English language is terrifying. While trying to work together to survive, they are unable to speak to one another or broadcast warnings to the outside world. The movie's tagline is, appropriately, "Shut Up or Die."
Pontypool's screenwriter (who also wrote Pontypool Changes Everything, the novel on which the movie is based) doesn't refer to the infected as zombies. Instead, he calls them "conversationalists," an intensely creepy term for people driven so insane that they are trying to eat the words out of one another. It's an incredibly original concept, further elevated by great performances from all the actors. Stephen McHattie nails his performance as shock jock Grant Mazzy, and the characters interact with such believability that it's impossible not to find yourself invested in their well-being.
If you don't feel like waiting for a month to get a DVD of your own, Pontypool is available on demand and will be screened at The International Zombie Summit in Stockhold, WI on October 24th.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
The season premiere left me feeling pretty nervous. Despite the best efforts of Amy Acker (a regular Whedon player who really killed during her Dollhouse stint) and some intriguing philosophical questions, I couldn't help noticing what's been bothering me about the series all along: Dollhouse takes itself way too seriously.
Sure, Buffy the Vampire Slayer explored some pretty heavy issues. My favorite episode showed the death of a parent in a way that I've never seen on television and film before. And Angel and Firefly have certainly had their deeper moments as well. But some of the best moments in those series occurred when the writers let themselves go and have fun with it. Everything needs some levity now and then. Even season six of Buffy had the musical episode.
But Dollhouse seems to be in a constant battle with its own sense of self-awareness. The subject matter is so heavy and so philosophical, that even with actors who get to portray different characters in every episode, it seems like everyone involved is tied up with little room to play and actually have fun with it.This brings to me to last week's episode of Dollhouse, the third in the second season.
The two central storylines involved some pretty heavy parallel stories. Both involved men turning women into sexualized dolls, willing enthusiastic prostitutes. Amusingly, one was a liberal arts college professor and the other was a serial killer. But the stories informed one another in an organic and disturbing way. Pretty heavy stuff with some quite shocking moments. But despite the dark subject matter, the writers injected the show with some moments of genuine humor. Enver Gjokaj's dance routine was my favorite moment of fall television so far, and the normally exhausting holier-than-thou handler Paul Ballard was allowed numerous clever quips. Really, let Tahmoh Penikett make a joke now and then. He doesn't need to be constantly put-upon (I'm looking at you too, BSG). That, plus the always entertaining Adelle DeWitt (played with excellent precision by Olivia Williams), and I was in Whedon heaven.
Hopefully this episode's critical acclaim and (relatively) successful ratings mean that Dollhouse will keep this momentum up. Worst case scenario, FOX will let Whedon wrap up the season before potential cancellation. So writers, please remember that this is an ensemble show with an excellent cast. Give them a chance to show off their comedic chops.
And thanks to Nitrolicious and Jezebel for the links!
In the spirit of the season, I put together a list of my favorite zombie movies. Though it shames me, I must disclose that I haven't yet seen: Pontypool, Grace, Dead Snow, Colin, Dead Set, [rec] (the Spanish inspiration of Quarantine) Carriers, Deadgirl, and Zombie Strippers ( [snooty accent] Jenna Jameson in a zombie movie based on a Eugene Ionesco play? How delightfully gauche!).
Resident Evil: Apocalypse (just that one scene where the reporter gets eaten by the zombie school children): I hated Resident Evil: Apocalypse. Like, a lot. However, there are few things creepier than zombie children, and a mob of them bringing you down in a deserted classroom is a pretty horrific thought. This scene always gives me shivers. Too bad it's in a movie that I find boring, convoluted and unsatisfying.
Resident Evil: Extinction: Other than the aforementioned Apocalypse, I quite enjoy the Resident Evil franchise. Sure, there are the boring exposition meetings of the Rainbow Corporation suits, but this movie had Milla Jovovich kicking ass, zombie crows and Ashanti (whom I find inoffensive!). What more could you want out of mindless entertainment?
Dead & Breakfast: Stellar cast. Amusing premise. Nobody saw it.
Fido: Zombies are a man's best friend.
Resident Evil: The first Resident Evil movie is perhaps the only film based on a video game that I really enjoy (fingers crossed for Bio-Shock!). True, they totally ripped off that hallway laser slice and dice scene from Cube, but they also have Milla Jovovich kung fu fighting zombie dobermans, and Michelle Rodriguez playing the same character that she always plays. A badass.
Day of the Dead: A perfect demonstration of the fact that cauterizing a zombie bite is not nearly as fun as it sounds.
Planet Terror: Just like Erma Bombeck said, if life gives you a leg amputation due to a zombie attack, make a prosthetic machine gun leg. That was one of her sayings, right?
28 Weeks Later: Really? The only survivor of the zombie plague is a carrier, and you leave her completely unguarded and within reach of her husband. Lame. But awesome.
Quarantine: I've read quite a few negative reviews of this film, but I don't quite understand the vitriol. It's pretty standard zombie fare, but with an interesting twist. The characters have been quarantined in an apartment building by the U.S. government. They will be shot if they try to exit the building. So in this case, it's a desperate tale of survival with no real hope of escape. Jennifer Carpenter stars, and I'm really becoming a fan of hers. She was perfect in The Exorcism of Emily Rose (and apparently super double-jointed), and she's one of the best actors on Dexter (a pretty impressive feat considering the amazing cast). Plus, anyone who marries a co-star but still manages to play on-screen siblings convincingly is a pretty solid actor in my book.
Cemetery Man: Twisted. Funny. Classic
Slither: This film doesn't seem to get a lot of mentions as a Zombie Best Of. I suspect that has more to do with the subject matter and less to do with the quality of the movie. People tend to think of Slither more as an alien movie than a zombie movie. True, Slither does involve an alien parasite from outer space that possesses people with slithery slugs, but those slithery slugs turn people into scary space zombies. It counts.
28 Days Later: Danny Boyle's rage zombies are a perfect slap in the face for anyone who's ever claimed, "In case of an outbreak, I can just outrun them."
I Walked with a Zombie: This is one of the most influential horror movies of all time. Sadly, few have seen it.
Night of the Living Dead: Needs no description.
Zombieland: I saw Zombieland in the theater during its opening weekend, and it was some of the most fun I've had in a theater in ages. In addition to being a clever new riff on zombie movies, it was a completely engaging watch. Audience members laughed, jumped, clapped and cheered. And seriously, who wouldn't with that amazing cameo by........? Yeah, I'm not spoiling that for anyone.
Shaun of the Dead: Horror-comedy is a notoriously difficult genre. Though the success of Zombieland may suggest otherwise, these are some of the most difficult movies to make into a critical and commercial success. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost do it beautifully. Plus, Shaun's mom is totally played by the Prime Minister from the new series of Doctor Who!
Dead Alive: Peter Jackson laughs in the face of my assertion that horror-comedy is difficult to do.
Dawn of the Dead (remake): When I first heard of director Zachary Snyder's (Watchmen, 300) remake of the George Romero classic Dawn of the Dead, I wasn't exactly pleased. The original is everything I want in a zombie movie, and I didn't understand why a director who's clearly such a Romero fan would want to mess with a classic. But after hearing that Sarah Polley Jake Weber had been cast, I had to admit that I was curious. Snyder's version doesn't disappoint. It stays true to the original in allegory and premise, but delights in adding fun new elements to the story, such as the famed Jay Leno zombie. The opening sequence with Sarah Polley's husband is about as traumatic as a zombie movie can get, and when she's later attacked in the mall by a zombie woman that she's trying to save, things really start falling to pieces. There are certainly flaws. I could have lived without the Not Without My Zombie Daughter sub-plot, but it's a device that was effective in turning survivors against one another, a must in this genre.
Dawn of the Dead (original): Again, no description necessary. This is George Romero's masterpiece.
World War Z: Though this is more of a movie list, I'd be hard-pressed to write a post about zombies without mentioning World War Z by Max Brooks. Sorry Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, but Z takes the cake for the ultimate zombie novel. Rumors of a film adaptation have been swirling since the book's release. This movie could be epic, y'all